SAN JOSE — William Eklund is going to Loveland, Colorado next week, not Edmonton, Alberta.
The San Jose Sharks will reassign Eklund to the AHL, coach David Quinn said Saturday after his team’s 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders at SAP Center.
Just minutes after the game ended and after player interviews wrapped up in the Sharks locker room, Eklund was seen walking out of Quinn’s office when he received the disappointing news, at least from his perspective, from Quinn and general manager Mike Grier. .
Considered the Sharks’ top prospect, Eklund was recalled from the Barracuda on March 3 and had two goals and an assist in eight games, as he played exclusively in the Sharks’ top six forwards.
But the decision to reassign Eklund prevents him from playing a 10th NHL game this season. If that had happened, the first year of his three-year entry-level contract would have started and would have ended after the 2024/25 season.
Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, and as stated by CapFriendly, a player who is signed into an ELC at 18 or 19 (as of September 15 of the signing year) and does not play in a minimum of 10 NHL games, may have their contracts shifted or extend to the following year.
Since Eklund signed his entry-level contract when he was 18 and also only played nine NHL games last season, his contract could move two seasons. Games in the AHL do not count for entry-level contract purposes.
Eklund’s first year of contract starts next season and expires after 2025-26.
On Sunday, the Sharks leave for a three-game road trip that begins Monday in Edmonton against the Oilers. The Barracuda’s next two games are against the Eagles in Colorado.
After Saturday’s loss, the Sharks’ overall record fell to 19-37-14. They came in second to last in the NHL on Sunday with 32 teams with 52 points, three points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
However, the Barracuda (26-29-1-4) is fighting for a spot in the AHL playoffs, as the team entered seventh in the Pacific Division on Sunday with 57 points. The top seven teams in the division make the postseason, and San Jose is one point ahead of eighth-placed Tucson.
The Barracudas play in Colorado on Tuesday and Wednesday, then return home to play next Saturday and Sunday in Bakersfield.
Quinn said the Sharks feel it is important to be in a playoff pursuit and possibly play in a postseason series, for the development of Eklund, who was drafted seventh by the team in 2021.
“It was a tough decision,” said Quinn. “But the value of making the playoffs and potentially playing in a playoff series is huge for development. He’s 20 years old and we really like what we’ve seen of him here and he’s getting the chance to go there. He is disappointed. But he will go at it again and get that team to the playoffs.”
The Sharks had not announced a corresponding move as of Saturday night. At the moment they only have 11 healthy forwards as Evgeny Svechnikov missed Saturday’s match with a lower body injury and he is not expected back anytime soon.